Happiness and Lo-carb Eating
Unfortunately for me I have a family pre-disposition to Type 2 diabetes. And over my life I haven’t helped myself by being overweight and having a deep affection for Coca-Cola.
Type 2 Diabetes
So for almost 20 years now I have bounced back and forth around the line of being in Type 2 diabetes and temporarily out. At times I get things in control and keep things regulated, at other times I don’t do so well. I’ve been fortunate enough, up until this past year to be able to handle things without medication. On my last year off, while traveling, I paid no attention to my blood sugar. That wasn’t very bright but while hiking across Scotland and Spain, I was completely unconcerned with whether or not the amazing food I was eating at that moment was Type 2 friendly, besides, I’ve always been able to get things under control in about six weeks once I start eating right.
So it was a bit of a shock after getting back to the default world and finding out my blood sugar was out of control that I couldn’t as easily get things back under control. It’s hell getting older. So I’ve ended up on medication for diabetes and trying to also loose weight. So far on the diabetes front, not so good, I recently had to up the dose on my medication. On the weight lose side things have been going very well. Even while I was traveling, for the first time in my life I spent a year under 200 pounds. When the pandemic broke out, I weighed 197 pounds, as of this morning, I weighed 183 with a goal of getting to 175 pounds by August 1st, the lightest I’ve ever been as an adult was 182 a few weeks ago before I went on vacation recently. When I vacation, I vacation from everything so I don’t watch what I eat.
Weight loss for me has been a long slow journey, when I left Knoxville,TN in 2002 I weighed 250 pounds. Over the last 20 years I’ve slowly tiered down my weight, usual in 20 pounds steps followed by gaining 5 or 10 back and then stabilizing at that weight for a couple of years, rinse and repeat. So I’ve dropped from 250 to 230 and back to 235 then down to 215 and back to 220, down to 200 back to 210. Then three years ago down to 195 and had stayed there until the beginning of the pandemic.
A big part of what has helped me be successful in losing weight is two things, reducing carbs (that includes cokes) and reducing portion size. These are not easy things for me, I’m an Irish-Italian kid. So pretty much eliminating pasta, bread and potatoes has always been a challenge, throw in the fact that I love Asian and Indian food and it means no rice as well. Over time all of those items have gone from things I eat daily, to having one of them once a week. I’m also not great at denying myself and food has always been my go to celebration, my go to comfort. So I’ve always been someone who allows myself a cheat day every week. This also has the benefit of keeping my metabolism ramped up, low-carb, low calorie diets can subdue your metabolic burn rate which can make it hard to lose weight.
So my eating plan, when I’m eating right is cutting my portion sizes and very limited carbs, my body unfortunately doesn’t handle carbs well at all in terms of my blood sugar. I’ve played with a lot of different ways of eating. I’ve tried what is recommended for diabetics, eating frequent small meals through the day. Unfortunately for me that makes me hungry all day and leads to over eating. What tends to work for me in terms of weight loss is to basically eat two main meals a day, with a small snack or two. My snacks are pretty much nuts, pickles and vegetables. I try to eat my bigger meals earlier in the day and lately have taken to eating salads, or a meal of vegetables and dips (hummus, peanut butter, cheese, guacamole) for dinner most nights. I also drink a lot of water, and other than tea and occasional soy or regular milk that’s it. I even stay off of drinks with artificial sweeteners as my body seems to react to them the same way as sugar in terms of my blood sugar. I also try to intermittently fast each day, not eating after 7PM, holding off breakfast to after 8AM. The silver lining in the pandemic has been that it’s been really easy to meet this type of eating pattern while working from home.
Working out and exercise
A note about working out and exercising. Without a doubt, exercise is important. And while increasing your daily calorie burn will certainly lead to lower weight and easier maintenance after weight loss, for me it’s not been the key thing. What helps me lose weight is concentrating what goes in my mouth, not trying to burn off excess food with more exercise. Absolutely the best option for me is to reduce carbs, decrease portion size and to eat less, consistent exercise helps me maintain what weight loss I do get to from a better diet. The goal for me has always been long-term change, not a quick drop that I can’t maintain, the plan I’ve just relayed is what works for me. It’s important to figure out what specifically works for you. Some people will benefit from small and frequent meals, some people are like reptiles, what works is one big meal and no other eating for the other 23 hours a day. It’s important that you get to know your own system and what works best for you. For me I shoot for losing 1-2 pounds per week by doing what I described above. It takes patience to see noticeable results and extra patience when you hit the inevitable plateaus you hit.
It’s also important on how you support yourself in this process emotionally. I’m a bit of a loaner and independent person so I’m fairly self-supporting but I do have people to talk to if I need to. For some folks they need cheerleaders or just good information. So it’s worth it for some people to do weight watchers, or work with a nutritionist or even check Noom which I know has worked for some people. In the end, get what you need the way you need it.
Low-carb cooking and eating
I love to cook and over the last year have a lot of fun trying to find satisfying low-carb recipes. What I’m always looking for is something tasty, that has substance and can give you the same type of satisfaction comfort food gives you. I’ve hit on a few this year that I really like, I’m fond of soups and stews and do a lot of those. I’ve also finally learned how to consistently make a solid egg drop soup and have been having it about once a week. One of my favorites has been scalloped squash. I tweak all of the recipes I use, for this one I have played with different versions using sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms and black olives. I also like salads and make a lot of standard salads and recently have started frying up some vegetables and chicken, spiced and added to the salads.
Another dish I’ve really enjoyed making are squash fritters. The fritters are super easy, shredded squash that you get as much water out of as possible. Add in some vegetables and spices, I add in chopped scallions, garlic and peppers, occasionally adding in some chopped mint leaves. Adding eggs and some low-carb almond flour helps hold the fritters together, I also add a little butter and grated Parmesan cheese into the mixture to help the fritters bind together better. These fritters are super tasty and very low carb.
Regardless of how well I eat, there are comfort food cravings that I get. I’ve always liked having a nice big breakfast on Sunday morning meetings. One of the things I love to eat, a taste I acquired living in Kentucky, is biscuits and sausage gravy. Of course as I’ve discussed biscuits aren’t on the menu these days. Another thing I really love for breakfast are hashbrowns. Last night I was really craving both of them and I had almost decided to at least slightly give in and allow myself to add a hashbrown to breakfast. I figured I could put the sausage gravy on top of the hashbrown as a biscuit substitute. But that still is a lot of carbs to add into the mix. Then it hit me to substitute the squash fritters. So this morning I made squash fritters, a cheese omelet with guacamole and salsa, and a squash fritters topped with sausage gravy. Made for a really wonderful Sunday big breakfast and still kept me on my goals.
It’s a rainy day here in the Bay Area, a bit chilly with a constant drizzle. So after a little cooking and a nice big breakfast I’ve spent the day relaxing, under some blankets and writing while Law and Order chimes away in the background. It’s a nice easy, happy day, hope yours is as well. ~ Rev Kane